I glanced at the calendar this morning and realized five years had suddenly rumbled by. It was on Oct. 20, 2009, that The Source debuted on Metro’s website. At the time, I wrote this:
Local media has taken more than a few hits (I was one casualty although I prefer to look at it as the long-awaited liberation of my soul ). At the same time, the Internet has provided government a way to directly speak to taxpayers without having to go through the media. No longer can government complain the middleman got it wrong or wasn’t interested in doing a story.
Readers will naturally wonder if an agency can honestly write about itself. Here’s what I can tell you: The agency still very much wants and needs press coverage and invites and needs outside scrutiny. As for the Source, I’m not here to invent some new form of propaganda, nor am I the agency’s new inspector general. The goal is to honestly and fairly explain how Metro works.
As I write this, we’ve had 7,333 posts, more than 26,000 reader comments and have been viewed on more than one million different computers. As far as I can tell, we’re certainly one of the most frequently updated government blogs out there — the result of a lot of teamwork and hard work on the part of my colleagues at Metro — and a lot of us have come to believe that providing info on the blog and Metro’s social media is an essential service.
Since five years is a significant milepost, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk a little bit about the blog (don’t worry–I’ll be asking for your feedback in a sec). A few thoughts:
•I’ve done my best to avoid the “everything is awesome” approach to the blog. While the blog is certainly not independent media, we’re not traditional PR either and I hope that readers find the information on the blog to be credible. We try to include outside viewpoints about the agency — i.e. the daily headlines linking to media stories about Metro, some positive and some bit — and point readers to staff reports that include a wealth of information about Metro’s projects and programs.
•I do hope that The Source has proven helpful for journalists, even if it’s just calling attention to an ongoing issue or upcoming project that makes for a good story. I sense there’s an uptick in coverage of the agency. Some of that is because there’s a lot going on with so many transit and road projects under construction. Some of that (I think) is because the agency has been proactive about getting the word out via social media and traditional media channels.
•As many of you know, we initially started the blog without a comments section out of concern that the same few people would dominate the comment board and/or post erroneous information. That was my mistake that we corrected, although I’m eternally frustrated that the comment board often seems to be dominated by the same few people, who are all men (as far as I can tell). Interestingly, we get a lot more feedback from a more diverse crowd on Metro’s Twitter feed. That’s a good place to look and get a handle on the day-to-day concerns of Metro’s customers and see some of the back-and-forth between customers and Metro’s social media team.
Enough of my blather.
This is, of course, your blog that is funded by your taxes. Besides expressing a huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to read the blog, I’d also like to know how you think we’re doing. Below are a few survey-type questions, but please feel free to expound on any points (or anything else) on our comment board!